Special Needs

Along the way of caring for the many, there are a few who have special needs.   I care for many cats that test positive for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus.   I have seen a lot of medical issues arise in connection with these two viruses.   I have cared for many cats who as they age become hyperthyroid or who go into chronic renal failure – the normal aging process just takes over.   In 2002, I endured a terrible epidemic of histoplasmosis, nursing eleven cats simultaneously with meds twice daily for each and many trips to Mexico to afford the medication which I could buy at $.63 a capsule instead of the $8.00 a capsule price in the U.S., avoiding a $40 a day for meds for six months.

Today, it is no exception that I have many cats who have special medical issues.  I have four boys right now that are positive for either feleuk or FIV with one being double positive and the victim of a car last December.   The accident permitted this outside feral boy, who populated my world with kittens in the Spring of 2010, to be placed inside a pen and to finally become my boy.  Thompson  has amazed me with the affection he shows as I walk into his pen each day.   He would rather love on my ankles and get his pets than eat. 

In addition to these boys, I have two that are one-eyed; one who recently lost his leg when a huge tumor grew within a few days; one who had an aural hematoma and had ear surgery; and  then there is Reacher.

Reacher was one of four kittens brought to me in the Fall of 2010.   He was a happy almost two year old until the summer.   Shortly after the photo taken here, he started losing a terrific amount of weight.   It was one of those moments when you suddenly look and realize you have skin on bones instead of a healthy cat.   I started feeding him every time he would eat and gave him antibiotics.  When I took him to the vet, he weighed 5 pounds and there was something terribly wrong.  

Reacher had an issue with one of his eyes having an odd infection in the winter months.  It was semi-resolved when it suddenly switched to the other eye.   His right eye appears somewhat like a cataract eye.  He does not appear to have vision in it.   Additionally, as we treated him with more antibiotics and he moved into my office for increased feedings, he started acting a bit “wanky” on his hind legs.  

Over the past month, he has put on weight and weighs 6.5 pounds now, which seems great for his small frame; however, his legs have gotten worse.  In addition, he started manufacturing a continual stream of waste, the consistency of a paste.   He suddenly became incontinent last week and despite the vet checking him weekly, he blocked.   He spent four days at the vet.

Reacher came home on Friday, but by this point, his legs would no longer support him.   His bowel issues have not resolved despite several antibiotics, special food and pumpkin.  Because he has something neurological happening, the vet and I considered the options; spend lots of money determining what this could be, or simply continue to permit him as much time as he has available.  The consensus is that this is likely either a dry FIP which can cause brain issues, or it is a brain tumor.  Neither is something that is survivable. 

So my biggest concern has become, how to restore Reacher to some quality.  I hated the idea of having him in the bathroom all alone to keep the waste from being spread everywhere; I hated having to clean this up several times a day, and it was impossible at the office.   I suddenly realized a diaper would work, but are there pet diapers?  Of course I discovered there are many, and they are quite expensive.   A friend suggested a baby diaper modified and of course, when I googled, there was a You Tube on how to modify one by a delightful artist caring for many handicapped animals.

He cannot move his back legs.  I met a delightful neuro cat at Best Friends this summer who walks with just his front legs and drags his hind legs.  Although Reacher did this at first, now that they do not function at all, he just rests patiently until I pick him up and move him along. 

Yesterday, Reacher returned home with me for the day and sat outside on the swing and then in the cat yard with his former companions.   He returned to the office with me last night, and with a few diaper changes, he is able to sit on the couch and to accompany me as I work.   He is also able to spend lots of time when I am finished working, cuddling and giving the best head butts and kisses.  

I am not sure how long Reacher has, but I know it is the best time that I can give him with the limits that we face.   I am delighted he is an eating enthusiast and that he wants to spend time with me and the office girls on the couch.